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MTV, Yahoo! harmonize on music-oriented site

By Published on .

Starting next year, Internet users may be chanting "I want my Yahoo!" The search engine today unveils an alliance with MTV: Music Television to launch a co-branded venture called MTV Yahoo! UnfURLed.

Positioned as a cross between MTV Online and Yahoo!, the area will be a combination of music-related editorial and an online guide to other music sites.

`IMPORTANCE OF BRANDING' "We're partnering with Yahoo! because it's the search engine that's really built a brand name for themselves," said Matt Farber, senior VP-programming and new-business development at MTV, which opened an area on America Online in 1994 and evolved to the Web in 1995. "We both understand the importance of branding, and that's essential to our partnership."

Although MTV has partnered with technology companies including Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp. and America Online, the deal with Yahoo! is its first content-oriented alliance on the Web.

The deal is also the latest example of how players in the increasingly competitive search engine category are shuffling for ways to attract users and become more profitable.

Launching in January, the site will offer original content and be part of the Yahoo! and MTV Online sites. So far, the site is not expected to have its own Web address. Ad sales will be handled by Susan Feinberg, director of interactive advertising at MTV. Rates haven't yet been set.

MORE THAN JUST LISTINGS

"We're partnering to fill the gaps in each of our sites," said Tim Brady, director of production at Yahoo!. "To retain music users we need to offer more than just music listings. . . . Our demographic targets are very similar, so we hope that MTV Yahoo! will bring each of us new users."

Yahoo! has formed similar content arrangements with Reuters Online and Women's Wire.

Next month, Yahoo! and MTV will begin co-marketing the site with a promotion called Best of the Web '96, which will give awards to music-oriented sites in five categories. While the contest will be held online, MTV plans to run teaser spots and promotions on its cable network to spread the word.

PARTNERSHIPS KEY

"MTV is always open to strategic partnerships," said Mr. Farber. "The best ones are those that obviously offer something that MTV isn't strong in--like guides and games, for example."

This latest alliance for Yahoo! underscores its focus on brand development and strategic partnerships. The company next month breaks a new branding campaign in magazines including Wired, Red Herring and Fortune, as well as on local radio stations. Black Rocket, San Francisco, handles.

Among other search engines, Infoseek Corp. last week formed the Infoseek Network and has begun repping third-party sites on the Web. Excite seems devoted to developing a wide range of content; Lycos remains focused on licensing deals; and Alta Vista is developing advanced technology for its engine.

Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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